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Do you know adding salt to food at table can cut years off your life?

Do you habitually add salt to food as soon as it reaches your table? Do you know adding table salt to food can cut years off your life?

Do you habitually add salt to food as soon as it reaches your table? You may think that sprinkling a tiny bit of salt over your food does nothing to your body and health, recent studies say otherwise.

While it may seem harmless, regular consumption of table salt is a direct step towards increasing the risk of health risks that can negatively impact your life span.

1. Adding salt to your food could lead to an earlier death

In a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, salting a meal after it has been prepared reduced life expectancy by 1.5 years for women and 2.3 years for men.

The study made use of more than data from 500,000 people over nine years.

The researchers initiated the study by exploring how often individuals added salt to their meals – after it was cooked. Instead of examining day-to-day sodium intake, the study particularly looked at the study participants’ preference for added salt and its long-term impact on mortality.

Urine samples were used to analyse the estimated sodium intake.

Factors such as BMI, sex, and race were considered, along with the death certificate to determine life expectancy.

Those who added salt more frequently were also found to have a higher BMI, exercise less, consume more red meat, and consume fewer vegetables and fruits.

2. The study findings

People who added more salt were found to have a higher BMI, exercise less, consume more red meat, and consume fewer vegetables and fruits.

Compared with those who never or rarely added salt to their food, those who always seasoned their food were at a 28 per cent increased risk of dying prematurely.

Women and men who always added salt to their food had a shorter life expectancy at age 50 of 2.3 and 1.5 years, respectively.

The findings of the study did not confirm that additional salt is associated with a less healthy lifestyle or a lower socioeconomic status.

Additionally, the study suggested that consuming fruits and vegetables, which contain high levels of potassium, may help counteract the adverse effects of high salt intake.

“What this study has done that’s interesting is that they’ve looked at the addition of salt in conjunction with pre-existing salt that is already accompanied with the foods people are usually eating,” said experts.

Since the study examined the addition of salt to meals rather than salt already present in prepared food, it shows that an increase in salt beyond what is already in our food may be detrimental to our health. However, before you throw away your table salt forever, researchers have discovered that high consumption of potassium-rich foods, such as vegetables and fruits, may reduce the effects of adding salt to food and its consequences on mortality.

Do you know adding salt to food at table can cut years off your life?

3. Who should specifically take a look at their sodium intake?

“Most people should look out for their heart health, regardless of their baseline condition,” says Rigved V. Tadwalkar, M.D., a cardiologist from Pacific Heart Institute. “There’s basically a sodium epidemic in this country, along with most western diets, so very few people are immune to the effects of sodium. This is partially the reason why there is a known epidemic of cardiovascular disease, because we have many hidden sources of sodium in foods where we might not think there’s much sodium but there’s actually more because of the packaging and the preparation” he adds.

Those with prior history of heart disease and those who have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, these are individuals that need to be even more conscious of their sodium intake, beyond the general population. Those with a family history of cardiovascular issues should be extra careful as well.

Bread, pizza, poultry, salad dressing, and canned and frozen meals are just a few common examples of foods that are high in sodium that you may not realize. According to Dr. Tadwalkar, “It turns out that a lot of health foods end up having a lot of sodium too, in an attempt to make the food more palatable.”

So the next time you head to the grocery store, take another look at the sodium content before you buy. And try skimping on the salt when it actually comes time to season your meal.

4. What happens if you eat too much salt?

You feel puffy and bloated

Water always follows sodium, and the kidneys use this principle to help them closely regulate blood volume and fluid in the body. So, when you eat a large amount of salt (causing blood sodium levels to rise), the kidneys compensate by retaining fluid to balance and normalize levels.

The effects are usually mild and temporary, yet still annoying: things like jeans fitting a little tighter at the waist, a puffy face or small overnight increase in weight per the scale. The solution? It seems counter-intuitive, but you should drink plenty of water (and avoid high-sodium foods).

You get headaches

If you get occasional or regular headaches, excessive salt consumption could be the culprit. Eating salt triggers an almost immediate rise in blood pressure in some people, and headaches are a common symptom of high blood pressure. But a high-salt diet can also make people with normal blood pressure more susceptible to headaches. In a 2014 study at Johns Hopkins of 400 people, researchers found those eating the highest levels of salt had the highest frequency of headaches. When salt intake was decreased, both people with normal and high blood pressure had fewer headaches.

You’re more prone to eczema

The idea that salt might have a direct impact on skin irritations like eczema initially seemed far-fetched—until I started reading and understood the connection that skin has to the immune system. While that data is limited, excess salt in the diet appears to trigger the immune system to release T-cells. Research suggests that this release leads to a type of hyper-inflammatory response seen with eczema, as well as other inflammatory conditions like arthritis and asthma. The thought is that excess salt triggers inflammation, aggravating eczema similar to how allergens and irritants in the diet do.

You may increase your risk of dementia

High levels of salt appear to increase levels of an inflammatory compound in the brain which leads to oxidative damage and begins to hinder blood flow. This is based on a 2018 study where a high salt diet was associated with causing dementia in mice. And researchers believe the effects may be similar when it comes to dementia in humans.

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